PV VS Round 5: Hinoi Team vs TRF

Filed in American Wota 1.0

Two videos go head-to-head in shorts reviews, but only one emerges as the winner. This time it’s long-time dance stalwarts TRF versus the young, nubile quartet of Hinoi Team. Who’s got the edge: the ripened posturings of experience, or the lure of ass-shaking forbidden fruit?

Hinoi Team – “Now and Forever”

The Hinochi girls are looking better than ever, Asuka and Hikaru do a very nice job with their solo lines, and the song is catchy enough…

Rina and Keika look especially… tan…

And yet, I find myself generally unenthused by the song or by the girls themselves.

This isn’t a very fun song. I mean, it’s aggressively upbeat and designed to make you wanna dance, but it doesn’t have the goofy cachet of para para. While para para makes me feel like I’m engaging in aerobic self-lobotomy, that was a good deal of its charm as well.

While the girls try hard to look sexy and serious – and they smile throughout much of the video – it seems much more canned, like they’re doing it on cue. I miss the playfulness from their earlier PVs. And I don’t mean having Koriki around – if anything, his ham-fisted attempts at comedy were overshadowed by the gentler humor the Hinochi girls often displayed.

Though, goddamn, Hikaru’s grown nicely in recent months! How she managed to out-hottie Asuka, I don’t know. But that’s definitely the case here.

I mean, wow. For a little while I thought Hikaru’d end up the Hitoe of the group, and now she’s the one who’s got my eyeballs glued to the screen for the duration of the video.

I especially like her outfit, too, cut diagonally with that long hem in the back. Peek-a-boo midriff and butt shows less but suggests more.

The PV itself is boring boring boring. The girls walk around a hallway and the camera rotates so they look upside-down at times. The setting changes from indoors to outdoors for extra effect.

The grabbing of doorknobs reminds me of “Love Raspberry Juice”, the upside-down camera shots make me think of “Grow Into Shinin’ Stars”. In both cases, SweetS did those gimmicks better.

Hinoi Team seems to be asserting that they’re growing up, which is by no means a bad thing. But they’re still young and they’ve always struck me as a fun group of girls. Why we can’t see more of that here is beyond me, that seems a much more sellable point than the U15 sexiness.

Wait, I take back that last part. Good Lord, what was I thinking?

Equating growing up with being more serious is one of the things I see too often in pop culture, perhaps worst epitomized by the decision to wear fake glasses. As if an unsmiling face and a bit of pretentious attitude is what being an adult is all about. Actually, the wink and nudge, a tongue placed firmly in cheek (whose tongue and whose cheek, I’ll leave you to imagine) is much more mature, if only because it is the stance of the ironist.

And while Ian MacKaye is generally right that “irony is the refuge of the educated”, he was talking of civilization and its discontents. In the realm of the pop cultural, irony is what makes complicity that much more delicious, negotiating between distance and immersion so that you can enjoy your mindless pleasures and not feel all that stupid about it.

Hinoi Team were much better about irony earlier in their career – especially on “King Kong”, with its ridiculously metaphorical U15 tease – than they are here. Hopefully they’ll recover that sense of fun and playfulness before their next single.

That said, they should let puberty keep working its magic on all of them. When Keika starts out-hottie-ing Asuka, then I won’t care about irony one way or the other.

TRF – “Silence Whispers”

At first, the only reason I gave even half a damn about TRF is SAM. The former Mr. Amuro Namie, father of her child, and the choreographer of SweetS during their earliest glory days.

Anyway, SAM does not disappoint. Watching him dance is the best thing about this PV. It’s clear why he’s something of a legend.

The second best thing about the PV is watching Chiharu, the female dancer with a gorgeously horsey face and long blonde hair, working the pole.

Good Lord, I need to get me to Femme Nu again sometime soon.

There’s a third dancer, Etsu, who’s got short hair and looks so androgynous that I thought she moonlighted for a VK band.

The song itself is okay. It doesn’t stick with me at first, though repeated listening has helped considerably. It is even more generically aggressive and unrelentingly electronically processed as “Now and Forever”. I like the way the bridge slows the song down and gives it a bit more oomph with its faux call-and-response before raising the BPM back to ungodly speeds.

Unfortunately, the very phrase “silence whispers” makes me mad in that literary-minded way where I’m thinking, “What a stupid phrase. Tautologically speaking, silence is silent. It doesn’t whisper, and even if you mean it metaphorically as silence gesturing towards deeper streams of communication, the phrase is a poor cousin of ‘silence speaking volumes’ or even ‘actions speak louder than words’.” But at least it attempts to be sorta clever, whereas “Now and Forever” is just trite.

The singing by Yu-Ki is okay, and technically better than Hinochi’s. I found the talking exchange between Yu-Ki and rapper DJ Koo the best part of the vocals, though it required zero talent on either of their part.

The PV is about as boring as Hinoi Team’s – hallways and lots of staggering around or dancing around them. Lots of generic effects to liven it up, though the dancing unadorned of effects would’ve been more than enough for me. Yu-Ki’s wandering through the hall actually reminds me of Quarterflash’s “Harden My Heart” of all fucking things. That is not a good thing.

This song is also deadly serious – though TRF do a better job of pulling it off, if only because they’re old enough to be believably miserable.

I’d actually like to see a couple of alternative mixes to the PV: one with just the hot blonde riding the pole, anther of SAM dancing his way down the white hallway. I’m not being snarky about this, either.

I must confess, the idea of a five-person unit with a singer, a rapper, and three dancers seemed silly to me at first… but really, it’s the dancers that make TRF worth paying attention to. At least, based on seeing this PV.

Also, props to this group for being a scary-looking bunch of aged-before-their-time party dinosaurs. They all look like they’ve spent way too much of their lives in nightclubs, doing whatever it is that beautiful and glamorous people do at nightclubs.

Let’s see, underage girls shaking their booties or an older women swinging around a pole… mostly clothed, but still

Hm. Tough decision here. Neither of them have songs that I’ll want to listen to a month from now – mostly because new songs that sound just like it are a sure enough thing to come along – though I do find the chorus to TRF sticks with me a little more than Hinochi’s. And the choreography is considerably better, though that may as well be a choice of subgenre or group line-up.

Points to Hinoi Team for the effort they place in developing and maturing their rather narrow idol image. Extra points for the Hikaru surprise. Points to TRF for still being alive. Extra points to TRF for having somebody who knows what Amuro Namie looks like naked. Even more extra points to TRF for having somebody who knocked up Amuro Namie…

So that’s it. TRF’s “Silence Whispers” wins this time around. I’m still a Hinochi fan, but they need to rediscover the playfulness of their image and not worry so much about being glamorous – nature’s doing enough for them in that department. In TRF’s favor, age, experience, and knowing how to throttle a pole with your sinewy thighs all add up to a better viewing experience.

That said, Hikaru learning how to dance with a pole would probably make PV of the Year for me…

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One Response to “PV VS Round 5: Hinoi Team vs TRF”
  1. Bene says:

    The dance of Now & Forever is so bad !
    This time I am agree with you. For me TRF’s PV wins too.